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The Touchstone of Life: Molecular Information, Cell Communication, and the Foundations of Life Paperback – Feb 18 2003

2.7 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (Nov. 15 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195140575
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195140576
  • Product Dimensions: 22.4 x 3 x 15 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 703 g
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #913,260 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description


"[A] readable book on a very important area of modern biology--cell communication....[Loewenstein] makes a valient effort to explain cell comunication in terms of the underlying chemical and physical principles. This makes the book worth reading and thinking about."--Science Spectra

"Among the tens of thousands of articles that I have read during my career as a research scientist, the one that most astonished me was published over 30 years ago by Werner Loewenstein and his colleagues. They showed that biological structures called cell junctions, which I and many other
scientists had believed to act as barriers blocking movements of molecules passing the outside of cells, also functioned in perpendicular direction as highways permitting the flow of molecules between the insides of cells. In this new book, Loewenstein, the man who thereby opened the field of
cell-to-cell communication, now summarizes the whole field and its implications for cancer, thought, and much else."--Jared M. Diamond, University of California, Los Angeles

"The Touchstone of Life may be the most fascinating book I have read.... The language throughout the book is complex like a Tennessee Williams classic yet fast-paced like a Michael Crichton thriller."--Mark D. Drapeau, American Scientist

"Dr. Werner Loewenstein is one of the great pioneers in the field of cell communication. He has now produced an extensive and scholarly review linking the wider aspects of information exchange in the biological world. The Touchstone of Life is a book of very general interest." --Sir Michael
Stoker, CBE FRS

"Poetic and encyclopedic.... In a tour de force, he traces the origin of information, the orderly arrangement of matter and energy, to the first instants after the Big Bang.... Lowenstein writes engagingly, and he provides the background material a nonspecialist needs to follow the intricate
story."--George Johnson, The New York Times Book Review

"Over 30 years ago, the research of Werner Loewenstein and his colleagues on cell junctions opened the field of intercellular communication. Since then, Loewenstein has contributed much to our understanding of biological information transfer. His new book, The Touchstone of Life, is in many
ways highly original...[it] contains myriad facts, unexpected relations, and remarkable insights."--Louis DeFelice, Science

"The author has revealed many of the principles of intercellular communication in his own research. In this book he addresses broader aspects of communication...The scope of the book is extraordinary: information exchange from the big bang to yesterday."--Jon C. Clardy, Chemical and
Engineering News

"A biophysicist renown for his work in cell communication applies information theory to recent discoveries in molecular biology in order to relay how order and function arise from cellular processes. Loewenstein argues that it is this information flow and not energy per se that is the prime
mover of life. These processes move in circles and become units of life...and by tracing the cosmic origins of information over 15 billion years, he assesses how these circles came to be, what happens when they are altered, and what makes them unique."--Science News

"Biophysicist Loewenstein argues forcefully that information works in tandem with energy to provide structure to the physical world. Starting back at the Big Bang, Loewenstein discusses the origin of information and explains how it pulls a molecular organization out of the erratic quantum
world and engenders the primal organizations of matter in the universe. The bulk of his book then focuses on the role information transfer has played in the evolution of life over the past four billion years. By merging principles of biology and physics, Loewenstein explains the workings of cell
biology and biochemistry. Information exchange is shown to be responsible for processes as diverse as cellular reproduction, hormonal action, forms of cancerous growth and...human consciousness."--Publishers Weekly

"How has life as we know it come to be? The answer, Loewenstein tells us, lies in information: information flow, not energy per se, is the prime mover of life...molecular information flowing in circles brings forth the organization we call 'organism' and maintains it against the ever-present
disorganizing pressures in the physics universe. So viewed, the information circle becomes the unit of life. Loewenstein, world-renowned for his discoveries in cell communication and biological information transfer, pursues his argument by applying what he calls the "strong loupe of information
theory" to molecular biology. With this method he reveals the beauties and intricacies of the myriad webs of communication that bring form from formlessness."--Reading Room

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